Album Review: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

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The label that changed the world with grunge, Sub Pop, is now expanding to include forward-thinking hip hop sounds like the ones coming from Shabazz Palaces.

Their second full-length for the Seattle based powerhouse is an epic, mind-twisting soundscape somehow remolded into the shape of a futuristic hip hop album.

Shabazz Palaces is the brainchild of Ishmael Butler a rapper/producer who first made a big splash all the way back in the early 90's with the jazzy boom-bap hip hop collective Digable Planets.

Their crossover single "Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" blared out of college dorms everywhere in 1993 and even made the Billboard Top 20 Singles chart.

There is almost zero similarity shared between the groups sound-wise, but if you look at both groups from a distance, they certainly share the "proud to be different" mentality.

Don't look for anything from Shabazz Palaces to come even close to hitting the Billboard charts. Lese Majesty is made up of seven elongated suites consisting of multiple song fragments. Certainly something uncommon for a hip hop album.

Ishmael (now going by Palaceer Lazaro) raps through thick sustain and reverb and the beats crackle with the anarchy of a laptop with coffee spilled on it.

Individual pieces usually don't stand out, making Lese Majesty something you should try to ingest in one sitting. Or walking, around your neighborhood late at night.

The only gripe I have with the project is that, at times, the record relies too heavily on going off on left-brained tangents. The record doesn't have relate-ability, arguably the hallmark of the hip hop genre.

However, by thinking so forward, Butler has admirably taken a risk instead of trying to fit in to the modern urban radio landscape or trying to re-live old jazz-rap glories.

In the end, Lese Majesty is a singular art piece that can be admired from afar. I give Lese Majesty:

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